“Children’s fiction featuring cephalopods” is not a phraseI ever imagined myself uttering. But, since my new fractured fairy tale picture book, LITTLE RED CUTTLEFISH from Pelican Publishing, features cuttlefish, and since cuttlefish are a type of cephalopod, well, here we are.
First things first. What exactly is a cephalopod? Wikipedia explains,
“A cephalopod (pronounced /ˈsɛfələˌpɒd/) is any member of the molluscan class Cephalopoda (Greek plural κεφαλόποδα, kephalópoda; “head-feet”). These exclusively marine animals are characterized by bilateral body symmetry, a prominent head, and a set of arms or tentacles (muscular hydrostats) modified from the primitive molluscan foot. Fishermen sometimes call them inkfish, referring to their common ability to squirt ink. The study of cephalopods is a branch of malacology known as teuthology.”
Teuthology? That sounds like a dentistry subspecialty. In any event, the cephalopod class includes octopuses (octopi is not the correct plural), squid (both singular and plural), cuttlefish (again, both singular and plural), and nautiluses.
Despite the name, cuttlefish aren’t even fish, they’re molluscs. Male cuttlefish have eight arms and two tentacles. Female cuttlefish have only six arms and two tentacles. The arms and tentacles have suckers for grabbing prey. And if they keep eating, they keep growing. If that isn’t strange enough, their blood is greenish blue.
Cuttlefish have an amazing ability to quickly change the color, pattern, and texture of their skin. Cuttlefish can use this camouflage to sneak up on their prey, which consists mostly of crabs and fish. The cuttlefish’s ability to quickly change color also helps it avoid being hunted by predators. If camouflage doesn’t work and it is spotted by a predator, a cuttlefish can squirt out a cloud of brown ink to help it hide.
How can you not now love cephalopods? So, here are some other children’s fiction books that feature cephalods.
Join Aaron Reynolds and Sara Varon as they explore the ideal qualities of leaders, diplomats…and giant squid. Squid knows all about being president. It means living in a big house, doing all the talking—oh, and having a tie is crucial. He’s all set! In the next election, make a more informed choice. Vote for President Squid!
Thatcher Hill is bored stiff of his summer job dusting the fake mermaids and shrunken heads at his uncle’s seaside Museum of Curiosities. But when a mysterious girl steals an artifact from the museum, Thatcher’s summer becomes an adventure that takes him from the top of the ferris wheel to the depths of the sea. Following the thief, he learns that she is a princess of the lost Atlantis. Her people have been cursed by an evil witch to drift at sea all winter and wash up on shore each summer to an even more terrible fate―working the midway games and food stands on the boardwalk. Can Thatcher help save them before he, too, succumbs to the witch’s curse?
WALKING YOUR OCTOPUS by Brian Kesinger
A beautifully produced and richly illustrated book that showcases the day-to-day adventures of independent girl-about-town Victoria Psismall and her pet land octopus Otto. Thirty panoramic, full-page illustrations humorously chronicle the duo’s home and social activities that include (among other things) bathing, biking, dating, cooking, playing croquet, and pumpkin carving. Accompanying text explains the “do”s and “don’t”s of living with a large land octopus.
The Berenstain Bears dive under the ocean to discover life below the waves! The family meets flying fish, dolphins, sharks, and giant squid while getting a close-up look at undersea plants in this remarkable learning adventure. This 8×8 paperback picture book takes young readers on the trip of a lifetime with their favorite bear family.
When Ms. Frizzle drives the Magic School Bus full speed ahead into the ocean, the class takes a submarine expedition that’s anything but ordinary. With a well-meaning lifeguard in tow, the class takes a deep breath and learns about hot water vents, coral reefs, plant and animal life on the ocean floor, and more!
The Cat in the Hat, Sally, and Dick take an undersea voyage aboard the S.S. Undersea Glubber! Traveling down from the Sunny Zone to the Dark Zone to the Trench at the bottom, Captain Cat and his crew get up close and personal with the different life forms found at each level of the ocean. Along the way, they meet sharks, jellyfish, dolphins, manatees, whales, and sea cucumbers, to name just a few!
DRAGONBREATH by Ursula Vernon
Danny Dragonbreath can’t breathe fire, but he has no fear. And that comes in handy when a bad grade at school inspires him to enlist his cousin the sea-serpent’s help with a research project. Using a hybrid of comic-book panels and text, Ursula Vernon introduces an irresistible set of characters that will have readers laughing until smoke comes out of their noses!
OCTPUSES ONE TO TEN by Ellen Jackson
Everyone knows octopuses have eight arms. But did you know that they have three hearts and nine brains? This intriguing exploration of octopuses goes through numbers one to ten, with a snappy rhyme and fascinating octopus facts for each number. The book also includes octopus crafts and activities for more learning fun!